The Original of Laura by Vladimir Nabokov

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 16 Critic Reviews

unrated

Synopsis

When Vladimir Nabokov died in 1977, he left instructions for his heirs to burn the 138 handwritten index cards that made up the rough draft of his final and unfinished novel, The Original of Laura. But Nabokov’s wife, Vera, could not bear to destroy her husband’s last work, and when she died, the fate of the manuscript fell to her son. Dmitri Nabokov, now seventy-five—the Russian novelist’s only surviving heir, and translator of many of his books—has wrestled for three decades with the decision of whether to honor his father’s wish or preserve for posterity the last piece of writing of one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. His decision finally to allow publication of the fragmented narrative—dark yet playful, preoccupied with mortality—affords us one last experience of Nabokov’s magnificent creativity, the quintessence of his unparalleled body of work.

Photos of the handwritten index cards accompany the text. They are perforated and can be removed and rearranged, as the author likely did when he was writing the novel.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Vladimir Nabokov

See more books from this Author
VLADIMIR NABOKOV studied French and Russian literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, then lived in Berlin and Paris, writing prolifically in Russian under the pseudonym Sirin. In 1940, he left France for the United States, where he wrote some of his greatest works-Bend Sinister (1947), Lolita (1955), Pnin (1957), and Pale Fire (1962)-and translated his earlier Russian novels into English. He taught at Wellesley, Harvard, and Cornell. He died in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1977. Thomas Karshan is the author of Vladimir Nabokov and the Art of Play and co- translator of Nabokov's The Tragedy of Mister Morn. Previously a research fellow at Christ Church, Oxford, and Queen Mary, University of London, he is now a lecturer in literature at the University of East Anglia. He lives in London and Norwich.
 
Published January 8, 2013 by Vintage. 304 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Original of Laura

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

Given the shape of Vladimir Nabokov’s own life, it’s hardly surprising that death — and its cousin loss — permeated his fiction like a potent but noxious perfume.

Nov 09 2009 | Read Full Review of The Original of Laura

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

As his biographer Brian Boyd explains, Nabokov would customarily “envisage a novel in his mind complete from start to finish before writing it down” — on 3-by-5 cards, which allowed him to work on any section he wanted to, then place it “in the sequence he had foreseen, among the stack already wr...

Nov 11 2009 | Read Full Review of The Original of Laura

The Guardian

See more reviews from this publication

This is hardly new territory for Nabokov, but he gives it a clever twist: the story he is telling emerges as only the "original", or raw material, of a novel that has subsequently been written about the affair, in which Flora's name has been changed to "Laura".

Nov 22 2009 | Read Full Review of The Original of Laura

The Wall Street Journal

See more reviews from this publication

Before his death in 1977, Vladimir Nabokov instructed his wife, Vera, to burn the unfinished draft of a novel called "The Original of Laura"—a handwritten mélange of notes on 138 index cards.

Nov 20 2009 | Read Full Review of The Original of Laura

The Wall Street Journal

See more reviews from this publication

One can't help thinking that such passages capture the author's own musings: The novel was begun in 1975, two years before Nabokov's death.

| Read Full Review of The Original of Laura

The Wall Street Journal

See more reviews from this publication

A novel posthumously constructed from 138 handwritten index cards.

Nov 20 2009 | Read Full Review of The Original of Laura

The Globe and Mail

See more reviews from this publication

In my role as Vladimir Nabokov's biographer, I was the first person other than Nabokov, his widow and his son to read The Original of Laura.

Nov 27 2009 | Read Full Review of The Original of Laura

The Telegraph

The Original of Laura is many things, including a set of chess pieces waiting for a game, Nabokov’s final love letter to the power of the unsaid and a narrative that, like most of his best work, centres on someone who is falling apart, but it is emphatically not a novel.

Nov 21 2009 | Read Full Review of The Original of Laura

The Telegraph

Vladimir Nabokov asked on his deathbed that his unfinished novel The Original of Laura should be destroyed.

Nov 15 2009 | Read Full Review of The Original of Laura

PopMatters

Such fixed details as her trick of opening her mouth when toweling her inguen or of closing her eyes when smelling an inodorous rose are absolutely true to the original”.

Nov 20 2009 | Read Full Review of The Original of Laura

London Review of Books

When in his afterword to Lolita he defined his ideal of ‘aesthetic bliss’ in literature he was speaking as a reader and a writer – to be precise as ‘neither a reader nor a writer of didactic fiction’ but of something else – and when late in life he told the New York Times what he was currently re...

| Read Full Review of The Original of Laura

New York Magazine

Flora’s fat husband appears “walking a striped cat on an overlong leash.” (“The scene might be called somewhat incongrous,” Nabokov writes—one of the subdermal pleasures of reading Laura is watching the great perfectionist persistently misspell words.) As Flora heads for the front door, her husba...

Nov 23 2009 | Read Full Review of The Original of Laura

New York Magazine

The work of Vladimir Nabokov is an obsessive study in the risks and rewards of total control.

Nov 15 2009 | Read Full Review of The Original of Laura

Literary Review

The first line is a typically Nabokovian tease, an answer to a missing question: 'Her husband, she answered, was a writer too - at least, after a fashion.' The 'she' here is Flora, a young woman married (we discover in due course) to an older man, Dr Philip Wild, a grossly obese but distinguished...

| Read Full Review of The Original of Laura

LA Times

See more reviews from this publication

After being locked up in a Swiss vault for decades, Vladimir Nabokov's final work, "The Original of Laura," has been published by his son, Dmitri.

Nov 13 2009 | Read Full Review of The Original of Laura

FLAVORWIRE

There has been a great deal of hand wringing over Dmitri Nabokov’s decision to publish his father’s unfinished novel The Original of Laura.

Nov 18 2009 | Read Full Review of The Original of Laura

Reader Rating for The Original of Laura
72%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 28 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review
×